My pick of the buzz phrase for wicked 2020 is “New Normal.” It is used often to describe the way things are going to be different as we make our way through COVID-19. Offices spaces will change; so will the ways we gather and the places where we live. All of that will be our normal. But wait, if it is normal, how can it be new?
My dictionary, “Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate,” describes normal as, “conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern.”
Yet, once something conforms to a regular pattern it is no longer new.
I know the phrase is meant to apply to the way things will change, but it is really only the present that changes and that lasts for only a moment.
Truth is, what is normal is constantly in flux, and that has been true long before COVID went viral. It was only a few months ago that if several people separated by distance needed to communicate, they would have a group conference call over the phone. That was very modern. Then one day someone said, “Zoom.” Now it is part of everyday life. Zooming is very much normal, though several leaps beyond being new. I remember the night several years ago when, at a meeting, someone was talking about the internet as a source of information. Then the person who was talking said an unusual, even funny sounding word, “Google.” While sweeping the world, the phrase morphed from a noun to a verb and if anyone still does not know what it means, they can “google it.” That’s the normal thing.
There was a time that if a freelance writer was contributing an article to a publication he would have to bring or mail the written copy to an office. But then along came the fax machine and the article came through a wire. That was only few steps away from the computer and e-mail. Each method of delivery was normal for its moment.
Perhaps the phrase “New Normal” has caught on because of its alliteration or because the sense of nostalgia it evokes, as in, “oh for the good old days when things were normal.”
Of course there will always be innovations that will make the status quo obsolete . For that not to happen would certainly be abnormal.
BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s books, “New Orleans: The First 300 Years” and “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival” (Pelican Publishing Company, 2017 and 2013), are available at local bookstores and at book websites.
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